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Genetic requirements and mutational specificity of the Escherichia coli SOS mutator activity.

By I J Fijalkowska, R L Dunn and R M Schaaper


To better understand the mechanisms of SOS mutagenesis in the bacterium Escherichia coli, we have undertaken a genetic analysis of the SOS mutator activity. The SOS mutator activity results from constitutive expression of the SOS system in strains carrying a constitutively activated RecA protein (RecA730). We show that the SOS mutator activity is not enhanced in strains containing deficiencies in the uvrABC nucleotide excision-repair system or the xth and nfo base excision-repair systems. Further, recA730-induced errors are shown to be corrected by the MutHLS-dependent mismatch-repair system as efficiently as the corresponding errors in the rec+ background. These results suggest that the SOS mutator activity does not reflect mutagenesis at so-called cryptic lesions but instead represents an amplification of normally occurring DNA polymerase errors. Analysis of the base-pair-substitution mutations induced by recA730 in a mismatch repair-deficient background shows that both transition and transversion errors are amplified, although the effect is much larger for transversions than for transitions. Analysis of the mutator effect in various dnaE strains, including dnaE antimutators, as well as in proofreading-deficient dnaQ (mutD) strains suggests that in recA730 strains, two types of replication errors occur in parallel: (i) normal replication errors that are subject to both exonucleolytic proofreading and dnaE antimutator effects and (ii) recA730-specific errors that are not susceptible to either proofreading or dnaE antimutator effects. The combined data are consistent with a model suggesting that in recA730 cells error-prone replication complexes are assembled at sites where DNA polymerization is temporarily stalled, most likely when a normal polymerase insertion error has created a poorly extendable terminal mismatch. The modified complex forces extension of the mismatch largely at the exclusion of proofreading and polymerase dissociation pathways. SOS mutagenesis targeted at replication-blocking DNA lesions likely proceeds in the same manner

Topics: Research Article
Year: 1997
DOI identifier: 10.1128/jb.179.23.7435-7445.1997
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central
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